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Monday, May 4, 2009

Lucius Septimius: A Classical Gas ~ Radicalism & the Arts

Mason Williams
Classical Gas
I wanted the straight up "3,000 years of art" video
(I LOVE that thing...)
which was made in 1968 &
Classical Gas was written to accompany it
it aired on the Smothers Brothers show
However it is no longer available on the net

But you can ALMOST see it in this clip,
they are showing it on the screen behind Mason:

Political Radicalism and the Arts
in Nineteenth-Century Europe

By: Lucius Septimius

The phrase "radicalism and the arts" tends to conjure certain images. Earnest workers, chins aloft, arm raised in joyous solidarity on a ground of socialist red; beatnik Ric Ocasek smashing the painting of a light bulb he has just completed over his head in the film "Hairspray"; an exhibit at Oberlin college that provokes Roger Kimbell to write a deliciously wicked review for the New Criterion. Radicalism can, however, come in many forms and colors. The art in the present exhibit was, in its own day, radical.

What I should like to do is consider the connection between some of the major artistic movements of the nineteenth century, in particular the English Arts and Crafts movement and its continental cousins Art Nouveau and the Jugenstil, and varieties of political radicalism. These connections are not incidental, but are reflections of a common radical discourse that emerged over the course the nineteenth century.

The nineteenth century began on a fundamentally optimistic tone. The old world of the feudal Middle Ages had been swept away in the currents of Revolution. In place of the Ancien Regime, a new era of economic and political liberalism held out the promise of a better life for all citizens. By the end of the century, however, there was growing skepticism about the new social order. Many would have agreed with the sentiment expressed by Emile Zola in 1895, “Modern society is racked without end by a nervous irritability. We are sick and tired of progress, Industry, and science.”[1] The promise of modernity, even at this point when the modern project remained rather novel, had not seemed to pay off as fully as earlier generations had expected. Emile Durkheim diagnosed the state of man at the end of the nineteenth century when he wrote, “To pursue a goal which is by definition unattainable is to condemn oneself to a state of perpetual unhappiness … hope has its pleasures … but it cannot survive the repeated disappointments of experience indefinitely.”[2]

For Durkheim, the answer to man’s dilemma lay not in an uncertain future, but a certain past, the sure knowledge of what was attainable within the confines of society and culture. Within the realm of art, this meant abandoning the coldness of Enlightenment rationalism and Lassaiz Faire economics in favor of a new aesthetic that captured the essential character of the human spirit, substituting for regimentation and mathematical precision the “restless dynamism of organic form.” In his History of German Civilization (Geschichte der Deutschen Kultur), originally published in 1904, Georg Steinhausen bemoaned the chilling effects of Enlightenment rationalism. With the coming of the Napoleonic wars, a reaction emerged in Germany, a rejection of the Enlightenment in favor of a more authentic conception of culture and society. Steinhausen notes that “this counter current did not simply involve the formula ‘feelings against reason’ … rather, it was much more concerned with a different definition of freedom.” The “spiritual liberation” of man, brought about through the application of antique, rationalist models in the course of the Renaissance and Enlightenment had indeed filled the heads of the peoples of Europe with the “ancient sentiment of political liberty,” but ultimately this conception of freedom was flawed, being based entirely on “rationalistic foundations.” It was merely “abstractions and constructions, for the most part inconsistent with life and human nature.” The “mechanical intonation of ‘individualism’ of the egalitarian sort sharply contradicted the Germanic ideas of freedom and personal identity.”[3] Against the external and artificial culture of the French Enlightenment, Steinhausen pointed to two foundations for a more authentic German culture. The first was the peasant, the custodian of authentic moral sentiments and cultural traditions. In the cultivation of folk songs and folk tales, Steinhausen saw the foundation of a “genuine renaissance.” The second foundation was the Germanic Middle Ages, a potent moral and aesthetic challenge to the soullessness of modernity.[4]

A decade later, the Austrian art historian Max Dvořák sounded the same chord. In his 1915 essay “Idealismus und Naturalismus in der gotische Skulptur und Malerei,” Dvořák described the period between 500 and 1100 as “the highpoint of otherworldly idealism.” The period between 1100 and 1500 saw a struggle between “the empirical spirit of naturalism” and the universalizing idealism of the High Middle Ages. Ultimately, naturalism won out, but was itself gradually destroyed by the natural sciences, which robbed nature of any sense of awe or wonder. As a consequence, the artists of the nineteenth century had to either forge new standards or submit to the enslaving rules of the academies and bourgeois taste. Ultimately, though, the idealism of the Middle Ages was revived in the artistic movements of the later century, culminating in Impressionism and Expressionism. The reengagement with the medieval past provided for Dvořák the foundation for a rebirth of spiritual and cultural values.[5]

Medievalism did indeed provide the foundation for some of the major artistic movements of the mid-nineteenth century. One important figure in the German-speaking lands was Moritz von Schwind (1804-1871). Von Schwind was born in Vienna and had been a close friend and associate of Franz Schubert. Later he moved to Munich and began a career as a painter and illustrator. He provided the illustrations for editions of Grimm’s fairy tales, as well as for a German reworking of the medieval French legend of Melusine. One of his most significant projects was the series of frescos he painted at the restored Wartburg castle in the 1840s and 1850s. The Wartburg was a place of special importance in German culture. In the 1230s, it was the site of the famous “Singer’s War” (Sängerkrieg) that pitted six of the greatest German medieval poets, including Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach, against one another in a competition. This event was commemorated in Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser. In 1521, Martin Luther had taken refuge at the Wartburg after the Diet of Worms. It was there that he completed his German translation of the New Testament, considered by literary critics to mark the beginning of modern German literature. In 1817, on the tercentennial of the Reformation, the Wartburg was the site of a gathering of the German student union, the Burschenschaft, founded in Jena during the Napoleonic wars.

In 1844 von Schwind painted a monumental fresco commemorating the Sängerkrieg auf dem Wartburg in the newly reconstructed great hall of the castle.

The portrayal of the scene, which had occurred in the very same room where the fresco appeared, is theatrical, if not operatic. The theatricality of the painting is heightened by its placement:

It stands directly opposite of the arcade in front of which the singers had staged their contest; in that sense it is a mirror image of the hall, reflecting not only the space but the ghosts of its past. It is also part of the hall – although a fresco, it is painted as if it were a tapestry. Note the tapestry and curtains painted on the wall, matching those appearing in the picture of the Sängerkrieg.

Von Schwind’s fresco in the singer’s hall represents a high point of the Romantic revival of the Middle Ages. His next series of paintings reveal, however, a somewhat different spirit. In 1854 he was asked to return to the Wartburg to paint a series of frescos commemorating the life of the Thuringian princess Saint Elizabeth.

The difference is striking. The grand opera style is gone; so too is the attempt to render in precise detail the buildings. Here we see St. Elizabeth on a path below the castle; the style is more in tune with the frescos of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries (Giotto comes to mind). Note the delicate tracery – there is no attempt at a naturalist representation of the tree; rather, it dissolves into pure decoration in the manner of medieval manuscript painting.

In the artist’s depiction of one of St. Elizabeth’s miracles, we see a composition reminiscent of a medieval altar piece. Here again, the tracery above the scene is more genuinely “medieval.” The aim, in contrast to the Sängerkrieg fresco, is not narrative; each scene is a tableau, a set piece reflecting on the particular virtues of the saint.

The style of the St. Elizabeth series looks forward to the novel approach found in the art of the Englishman William Morris, the founder(with John Ruskin) of the Arts and Crafts movement.

This is Morris’ only surviving easel painting, “Queen Guinevere,” painted four years after von Schwind’s Elizabeth-cycle. Morris was perhaps best known for his graphic designs, in particular his block prints.

In these works, Morris sought to revive the older combination between craft and art. His prints were based on late medieval and Renaissance models but were not slavish copies. Here is a genuine early sixteenth century print, done by the Basel artist Ambrosius Holbein, older brother of Hans Holbein the Younger, court painter to Henry VIII. Note the use of multiple blocks within the same page. Morris used a similar technique in this print of Chaucer’s “Troilus and Criseyde.” But note that while the basic structure of the print is similar to the original, the form of ornament is more uniform, less architectural and more floral. The acanthus leaf motif is, in fact, very similar to the textiles designed by Morris and his school. The love of nature can be seen as well in this manuscript edition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam produced by Morris.

William Morris was not merely a gifted artist and graphic designer. He was also an anarchist, and his artistic theories were rooted in his social and political ideals. Morris saw art as an agent of social change. But it was more than that – it was the quintessence of labor itself. Like other nineteenth-century radicals, Morris condemned the capitalist system, in particular, the modern division of labor. He saw the separation of the artist from society as something unnatural, a manifestation of the divisions between the classes. His goal was for an art “made by and for the people.” The revolutionary sweeping away of capitalism and the annihilation of the market would bring about the reunion of artist and artisan. Work was only “work” under the oppressive and exploitative regime of the market; in the anarchist future, art would “flow from all men” as an expression of their enjoyment of their labor. [6]

Morris’s ideas are strikingly similar to those of Mikael Bakunin, the father of modern anarchism. Like Morris, Bakunin was appalled by the “growing artificiality of modern life.” To address this, man must be freed from the constraints of modern industrial society. Bakunin’s conception of freedom, however, was not that of the liberal theorists. For him, the liberal bourgeois conception of freedom was simply egoism. Rather, since men are social animals, they only become “complete” human beings within the context of society: man is made for society, and society makes man in his own image. Man becomes free, according to Bakunin, when he lives in a community and with his fellow man works. In a free society, work is the means to liberation and the means to becoming fully human.

Bakunin and Morris’s notion of work owes a great deal to Hegel. Their ideas also rest on a visceral rejection of industrial society and an idealized conception of the past. Both Bakunin and Morris conceive of society in terms of a pre-industrial agrarian commune, the peasant villages of medieval England or Russia. For them, life in the Middle Ages was unhurried, freer and more “human.” In the same vein as Ruskin, they championed a return to nature as the antidote to the stifling and oppressive artificiality of modern social and economic modes. Bakunin saw modern man as starving without knowing it. The “free” society of anarchism will “necessarily create strong, open, outstanding men” and lead to a reassertion of traditional – even “conservative” social values which are good “because they are natural.” All that must be done is to remove the impediments to nature. The existing social and political order must be swept away, destroyed, obliterated. Then, and only then, can the new society based on a principle of anarchic communism emerge.[7]

The teachings of Morris and Bakunin found a ready audience among the French Syndicalists. Syndicalism was a radical form of trade unionism whose weapon was the general strike. Drawing on the theories of Proudhon and Fourier,[8] the Syndicalists envisioned a new society that would emerge in the aftermath of the revolution, characterized by a form of anarchism where the various industries, rather than being run by the state, would be administered by worker’s syndicates within the context of a federal society. Translations of Morris’s revolutionary tracts first appeared in the anarchist journal Les Temps Nouveaux in 1892. The French syndicalist Fernand Pelloutier (1867-1901) drew heavily on Morris in his a series of articles on labor conditions in France published in 1894.[9] Henry Van de Velde, the Belgian painter, architect, and interior designer was essentially quoting Morris when he defined art as “the expression of pleasure in work.” The present division of high and low art was merely a reflection of social hierarchies, perpetuated by the market. When the latter was destroyed, art and labor would be reunited.[10] The French Symbolist writer Félix Fénéon likewise revealed his debt to Morris when he wrote “A day will come ... when art will be part of the life of ordinary men ... when it does, that artist won’t look down at the worker from above his celluloid collar: the two of them will be a single one. But to achieve this, the Revolution must get up steam and we must build a completely anarchistic civilization.”[11]

As it turned out, it did not require a revolution for the artistic ideas of Morris to find a home on the Continent. In France, Germany, and Austria, a de-radicalized version of his vision of the union between art and craft was realized within the context of a capitalist present. In the French case, Morris’s notion of craft was taken up by the brothers Goncourt. Tired of the pedantry of the Second Empire, the Goncourts offered up a revival of a more “authentic” historical style. At the same time, they repudiated Morris’s medievalism, arguing “that each country must return to the best of its own traditions.” In the French case, they saw the rococo style of the age of Louis XV as the appropriate model for a distinctly national style. They stressed the “organic rhythms” and feminine qualities of rococo art against the “deformation of the industrial and commercial present.”[12]

The new art and the ennoblement of artisan labor was championed by French politicians as a remedy to the stagnation of French industry in the late 1880s and 1890s. The Social Republican Prime Minister, Louis Bourgeois, made use of Morris’s rhetoric about the artisan while cleansing it of its left-wing radicalism. His goal was to acknowledge the anarcho-syndicalist and socialist critique of modern society while preserving the liberal conception of individualism.[13] In a similar way, Emile Durkheim seemed to echo the communitarian views of the anarchists. In Suicide, Durkheim wrote that “the individual is not a sufficient end for his activity. He is too little ... the state of egoism ... is supposed to be contradictory to human nature.”[14] Moreover:

The roles of art, morality, religion, political faith, science itself are not to repair organic exhaustion nor to provide sound functioning of the organs. All this supra-physical life is built and expanded ... because of the demands of the social environment. The influence of society is what has aroused in us the sentiments of sympathy and solidarity drawing us toward others; it is society which, fashioning us in its image, fills us with religion, political and moral beliefs that control our actions.[15]

Durkheim’s statement seems, at least on the surface, to conform fully to Bakunin’s notion of man and society. But Durkheim did not require a revolution; he saw the state and existing forms of civil society as adequate to remedy liberal egoistic individualism and restore the proper relationship between man and society.

So even while Morris’s radical devotees proudly announced that they sought “no concessions from the public, no courting of the establishment,” in reality the artistic form associated with Ruskin and Morris – the return to nature and to the style of an authentic past – was the art of the establishment.[16] Such was also the case in Austria. Late nineteenth-century Austria wrestled with some of the same problems as France: incomplete transition to industrialism, economic backwardness compared with England, Germany, and the United States, and military and political humiliation at the hands of Prussian Germany. The original optimism of the post -1848 regime was, by the 1880s, spent by the failure of both Neo-Absolutism and Liberalism. Morris’s ideas here too resonated with the discomfiture of the artistic community, albeit in a rather different way. Ruskin and Morris in England, and to a degree the Goncourt brothers in France, aimed to revive a moribund arts and crafts industry; in Austria “the issue was not revival but survival: the preservation of an artisan society still alive but mortally threatened.”[17]

One of the principal spokesmen for the new aesthetic in Austria was Camillo Sitte. In 1889 he published a scathing critique of the plan for the Ringstrasse in Vienna.[18] From his perspective, “artistic” and “modern” were antithetical terms, insofar as the latter presumed a sort of mathematical precision not found in nature. Sitte railed against “modern” rationalist conceptions of art and urban planning. “To conceive of everything systematically,” he wrote “and never to deviate a hair’s breadth from the formula once it’s established, until all genius is tortured to death, all joyful sense of life suffocated, that is the mark of our time.” Against the tyranny of the t-square, Sitte offered up the medieval conception of the city, with its irregular streets and forms, arising “not on the drawing board but ‘in natura.’” His aim, like that of his anarchist contemporaries, was to revive the older notion of community: the plan of the city would reduce the alienation of modern life and bring about a stronger integration of community, in part through the restoration of the unity of work and private life. Sitte was tireless in his efforts to revive craft production and to infuse even industrial labor with the spirit of craft production. His mechanism was not revolution, however, but the state. With the support of the state, through the patronage of schools and workshops, the artisan mode of production could be preserved and brought into the modern, industrial age.[19]

For Sitte as for Durkheim, the primary characteristic of modernity was the fragmentation of human life. What was required was some kind of integrating myth, some set of values that could bind the scattered isolated individuals back into a cohesive and healthy society. Here Sitte found a model in Richard Wagner, in particular in Wagner’s ideal of the Gesamtkunstwerk, the piece of total art that would unite all the arts and crafts into a single entity. Like Wagner, Sitte viewed the mass of humanity as passive and essentially conservative, even philistine. Nevertheless they were capable of recognizing and responding to genius. It was the role of the artist to redeem the masses from their enslavement to the destructive forces of modernity, the scientists and merchants. Total art – the Gesamtkunstwerk of Wagner – was the means; it was socialized art in which all aspects of society were assembled into a single, coherent program whose ends were social and redemptive. As Sitte wrote, the city must be thought of as “a significant spiritual work of are ... a piece of great, genuine folk art.” It should be “a popular volkstümlich synthesis of all visual arts in the service of a national Gesamtkunstkwerk.”[20]

Sitte’s vision, in other words, was nothing short of revolutionary, but note that he expected the state to be the force that would coordinate the production of this vast work of art hat was the new society. For French and Austrian theorists, then, the state was not the obstacle but the necessary vehicle for advancing to the utopian future. In Germany, this association between the state and the radical transformation of society was, if anything, even more pronounced. As I stated at the beginning, German art critics fully embraced the rejection of soulless modernity and the revival of the simpler, more authentic virtues of an earlier age. Max Weber described the modern capitalist economic order as “a monstrous cosmos” governed by an economic form of natural selection. The capitalist is “absolutely unscrupulous” in the pursuit of his private interest against the needs of society.[21] How different were things in the pre-industrial era! The life of the worker in those days “was a fairly easy going one by today’s standards.” Working hours were shorter than today. And even though “income was modest” it was “sufficient for a decent standard of living.” Rather than the heated, jungle atmosphere of modern competition, “relations between competitors were amicable and their was a large measure of agreement on the principles of business.” Over all, life was good for the working man of the pre-industrial era: “Prolonged daily visits to the club, as well as perhaps a glass of wine in the evening with a circle of friends, made for an unhurried lifestyle.”[22]

It’s hard to avoid the sense that Weber’s vision of pre-Industrial society is as naively romantic as that of Morris or Bakunin. But he is quick to stress that he is describing an essentially Capitalist system. In other words, like Durkheim, Louis Bourgeois, and Camillo Sitte, he stresses that it is possible to have a liberal capitalist society without the corrosive callousness and egoism of the capitalist “spirit.”[23]

What seemed to be required was a mythology, a set of values transcending the egoistic individual and reintegrating him into society. German artists and theorists found such a mythology in the history of the Middle Ages.

In Imperial Germany, particularly under Kaiser Wilhelm II, there was a revival of German medieval art. The reasons were essentially political: the dominant public art forms in Germany prior to 1870 had been influence primarily by French and Austrian models. The former, as we have seen, ultimately found in rococo the “authentic” form of national art. In the latter case, it was the era of Rubens, the height of the Habsburg hegemony that provided the artistic style against which the current age might be judged. For Germans it was essential to find a domestic style, but one that would support the imperial ambitions of the new dynasty. The Hohenzollerns thus made a concerted effort to identify themselves with the Hohenstaufen dynasty of the twelfth and thirteenth century. The reasons were manifold. First of all, it had been the Hohenstaufens who, in the twelfth century, had elevated the Hohenzollerns to the princely estate. Secondly, the Hohenstaufen emperors, in particular Frederick Barbarossa, had been leaders of the crusading movement as well as patrons of the arts. Finally, the Hohenstaufen had long fought with the Popes – in that respect the lionization of the Hohenstaufen went hand in hand with the Bismarckian Kulturkampf directed against Catholics and the claims of Protestant Prussia to dominance in a German-speaking world where Catholics predominated.

The artistic form associated with the Hohenzollerns in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was derived from German Gothic. But the artists engaged in the revival were also devotees of William Morris’s notion of craft. The unity of art and craft in the proclamation of the dynasty’s pretensions are most clearly visible in the mosaics installed somewhat paradoxically in Lutheran churches built by Wilhelm II in Germany and abroad.[24] Few of these survive, but one can get a sense of the style from Emil Doepler’s charter for the Church of the Redeemer, built for Lutheran pilgrims in Jerusalem. This manuscript document clearly evokes the style of medieval charters. But a closer look reveals, as with William Morris’s manuscripts, a different aesthetic at work. The depictions of the church are clearly in the new style, the Jugendstil, as is the initial “W”, itself worked into a monogram of the Kaiser. The typeface is not the traditional minuscule or Fraktur but an entirely new style of print.

An illustrator, Doepler (1855-1922) immersed himself in Germanic mythology, seeking a more authentic German voice. This shows a border illustration Doepler prepared, depicting the three fates of Germanic legend. The influence of the new style is again clear. Even more striking are a set of illustrations he did for an edition of the Norse sagas.

Here we see him embracing primitivism – the style of illustration recalls medieval Icelandic manuscript illumination rather than the high Gothic style of the charter. Here we see the move away from the Christian German to the pre-Christian Germanic, towards what has been termed “heathen Imperialism” in the effort to create a heroic, authentic art “by and for the people.”[25]

Perhaps the most striking example of the conjuncture between art, artisan craft, “Volkisch” sensibility, and imperial ideology is this portrait of Frederick Barbarossa, produced in 1916. [slide 16] The artists were two instructors at the technical school in Göppingen, an industrial town in the valley below the original Hohenstaufen castle. The portrait, in the form of a medieval funerary plaque, is executed in gold, silver, and iron nails, all of which were made in the Realschule. The work cost 2,500 marks to produce – a sizable amount, especially considering that this was made in the midst of the first World War. It is, in many respects, a Gesamtkunstwerk in small – it was a group effort involving students and instructors, financed by the community at large, embracing art and craft in a form that melded medievalism, folk art, and Jugendstil aesthetics into a single statement of political identity. But in the latter case, the message is somewhat disturbing. Barbarossa is not portrayed as a medieval king in the traditional sense. Rather, the setting is entirely pagan: the ravens surrounding his head recall the messengers of Wotan. The emperor, in other words, is depicted as a pagan Germanic hero – a new Siegfried – if not a pagan deity, a god of storm and war, the spiritual embodiment of the nation.[26]

In closing I wish to offer a few observations. The first one is fairly obvious: at a basic level, both the new arts and the new politics were as reactionary as they were utopian. As Gerald Brenan pointed out in his masterful examination of the origins of the Spanish Civil War, “Anarchism … has its atavistic side: in a certain measure it is an expression of nostalgia for the past and an attitude of resistance to the slavery which the modern capitalist structure of society and the strain of factory life bring with them.”[27] Much the same can be said for the artistic styles that looked back to the Middle Ages – nostalgia for a simpler time defined the aesthetic. But the vision of the past was hardly accurate. And while the radicals extolled the value of work, there seemed to be little of that in their utopia; while they extolled the virtues of the Golden Age of the peasant, “one might suspect that behind it stands the Pastoral Age, where men stood and watched their flocks by day and meditated like Hebrew prophets upon Vice and Virtue, upon Fate and God, whilst the toil and degradation of the agricultural life was left to others.”[28]

This leads to the darker side of the new art and politics. It stressed vitalism, elevating action over contemplation. That in and of itself was not so bad, but the kind of action advocated consistently stressed destruction. Silverman writes that the theorists of Art nouveau wished “to disrupt the hierarchy of the media and to reunite art and craft.” Note, though, that to accomplish the first, the second was required. For Morris, like Bakunin, the reunion of art and craft required the destruction of the market and of the entire edifice of the modern liberal bourgeois state. Destruction took on a mystical, quasi-religious significance; the new age would literally drop into their laps from heaven in the aftermath of the Revolution. The vision was, thus, fundamentally nihilist, reflecting the exhaustion with modernity described by Zola. As Charles Nordmann wrote in July, 1913, “There exist in the life of societies as well as individuals hours of moral discomfort when despair and fatigue spread their leaden wings over human beings. Men then begin to dream of nothingness. The end of everything ceases to be ‘undesirable’ and its contemplation is in fact soothing.”[29]

Thus an activism of destruction was coupled to a reactionary utopian vision. The primary carriers of the new ideas were the artisans, the petty bourgeoisie whose livelihood was threatened by the advance of industry. In some places, such as Austria and Germany, this group was large enough to provide the foundation for political mass movements. The Christian Social movement in Austria represented the interests of the working classes against the factory owners and financiers of Vienna. Their aims were socialist, but the ideas that motivated them were deeply rooted in the past. In that regard, the Christian Social movement, like anarcho-syndicalism in France and Spain marked the transformation of the ideology of the Old Right – the displaced aristocrats, craftsmen, and peasants – into the ideology of the New Left.

Part of that ideology was nationalism, but anti-Semitism also figured strongly in the rhetoric of the new radicals. The brother Goncourt stressed that their art reflected the “essential” and “superior” qualities of their race. French radical and moderates both railed against the “Israelite tradesmen” and their dominance of finance and industry.[30] The Christian Social movement in Austria found anti-Semitism a useful tool for drawing artisans and tradesmen into their ranks even though the movement’s founder, Karl Lueger, had at one time been a political associate of none other than Theodore Herzl. In other words, not far below the surface of the rhetoric about noble “work” and “art” and the criticisms of bourgeois capitalist excess lay the ugly face of anti-Semitism, a sentiment that embraced right and left at the end of the nineteenth century.

The combination of utopian reaction, vitalist nihilism, and anti-Semitism is thus at least incipient in the “New Art” of the nineteenth century. This is an unsettling thought, but perhaps not an inappropriate one on which to conclude a lecture given sixty four years to the day after a would-be Austrian artist put a bullet through his head in a Berlin bunker.

[1] Debora Silverman, Art Nouveau in Fin-de-siecle France (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 7.

[2] Emile Durkheim, Suicide (New York: The Free Press, 1951), 248.

[3] Georg Steinhausen, Geschichte der Deutschen Kultur (Leipzig, 1933), 625.

[4] Steinhausen, 600, 625.

[5] Max Dvořák, Idealism and Naturalism in Gothic Art (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1967); see also Dvořák, “Über El Greco und die Manierismus,” in Kunstgeschichte als Geistesgeschichte (Vienna, 1923), 259-276; William Johnston, The Austrian Mind (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972) 153-155.

[6]William Morris, News from Nowhere (New York: International Publishers, 1968); Silverman, pp. 138-139, 173, 211.

[7]Gerald Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1943), 132-135.

[8]Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) was a radical French socialist and anarchist, best known for two of his epigrams, “Anarchy is Order” and “Property is Theft.” Charles Fourier (1772-1837) was one of the original Utopian Socialists and originator of the term “Feminism.”

[9]Fernand Pelloutier, “Les Conditions du travail et de la vie ouvrière en France,” Société nouvelle 12 (1894): 433-58, 566-80; 690-706; Silverman, 138.

[10]Silverman, 210-211.

[11]Eugenia Herbert, The Artist and Social Reform: France and Belgium 1885-1898 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961), 113; Silverman, 213-214.

[12]Silverman, 8-9, 23-30.

[13]Silverman, 49.

[14]Emile Durkheim Suicide, trans. John Spaulding and George Simpson (New York: The Free Press, 1951), 210.

[15]Durkheim, 211-212.

[16]Silverman, 210-211.

[17]Carl Schorske, Fin de Siècle Vienna (New York: Vintage Books, 1981), 65.

[18]Camillo Sitta, Der Städtebau (Vienna, 1889).

[19]Schorske, 66-68.

[20]Schorske, 69-72.

[21]Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and Other Writings, trans. Peter Behr and Gordon Wells (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2002), 13, 15.

[22]Weber, 21.

[23]Weber, 21-22.

[24]Michael Bringmann, “Gedanke zur Wideraufnahme staufische Bauformen im späten 19. Jahrhundert,” in Zeit der Staufer (Stuttgart: Württembergische Landesmuseum, 1979), V, 603-604.

[25]Klaus Schreiner, “Freiderich Barbarossa – Herr der Welt, Zeuge der Wahrheit, die Verkörperung nationale Macht und Herrlichkeit,” in Zeit der Staufer, V, 521-579; cf. Bringmann, 592.

[26]Zeit der Staufer, II, catalog entry 1071, p. 757.

[27] Brenan, 188.

[28] Brenan, 196.

[29] Quoted in Modris Eksteins, The Rites of Spring (New York: Mariner Books, 1989), 54.

[30] Silverman, 56

"Dayton, 1970"
Set to Classical Gas by Mason Williams
and done in the style of the "3,000 years of art" video
8mm film shot in 1970 of downtown Dayton Ohio as part of a film project during my (the film maker's -bz) Junior year at Chaminade High School. Filmed by Joseph Slonaker, Gus Miklos and Steve Murphy. I remember we showed it in the auditorium set to the music of "Classical Gas". We wanted it to be "quick cuts" just like the famous film shown on the Smothers Brothers show of art work set to the same music. Of course we had no editing equipment, so we had to shoot it that way in the camera. It took weeks of walking around in our spare time to get this 8 1/2 minutes of film. Looks pretty cheesy now, but at the time everyone thought it was pretty far out and groovy, man!
~ pakojoe

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